It will cost $1.5 million more than originally budgeted to replace the heating and cooling system in the Library Cultural Centre, but this is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions almost six-fold.
The total project will cost $3.5 million while the original plan was to spend about $2 million replacing the system that city staff say is on its last legs.
City council voted on Monday evening to go for the more expensive option – only Coun. Alexa Loo voted in opposition.
Coun. Bill McNulty called the decision to install the higher-cost system a “no brainer.”
“We brag about being a leader, we brag about (reducing) our carbon area, and here we are quibbling about $1.5 million,” McNulty said, adding that it could take five years or longer to invest in other projects to make the same GHG reductions. “I believe this is the right thing to do.”
City staff had recommended the less expensive system, just over $1 million, which would have reduced GHG emissions by 10 per cent – the option chosen by council will reduce emissions by 60 per cent but, in addition to costing $3.5 million, it will require $53,500 per year in maintenance costs.
The staff recommendation was based on the cost impact to taxpayers, especially given that “revenues are uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a report to council.
While he supported the more expensive system, Mayor Malcolm Brodie pointed out it’s hard to look at one project in isolation. He added city staff noted the money could be better spent on other projects to reduce GHG even further, for example, at a new Steveston Community Centre.
“We get a better environmental bang for our buck in other ways,” Brodie said.
The additional $1.5 million will come from capital building and infrastructure reserves – whose balance is currently $33 million – and from gas tax.